Pfieffer Hopes He’s Winning The Barrier Battle With Whinchat

Trainer David Pfieffer believes he’s slowly getting on top of Whinchat’s barrier nerves but says it’s still a source of some worry as the emerging sprinter goes on trial for a feature race tilt in the Kia Ora Stud Handicap (1300m) at Randwick on Saturday.

The four-year-old, a winner of four from nine, has only missed a place three times and on each occasion he’s been on the back foot, or completely missed the jump, when the gates open. When he jumps with them he’s a bold front-runner.

Pfieffer said if Whinchat can replicate his runaway first-up Kensington win he’d raise the bar by chasing either the Listed National Sprint in Canberra or head into the Polytrack Provincial-Midway Championships series.

“The whole time he’s in the gates it’s always a nervous wait,’’ Pfieffer said.

“He’s a handy horse and he’s always been a hard project because of his barrier manners but there’s no doubt he can gallop.

“I think he’s improving every preparation with his manners and the more he races the better he gets.

“I know the owner would like to get black type for the broodmare so we’ve got to keep our options open but the Championships would be worth keeping an eye on.”

Whinchat, $2.15 with TAB on Thursday, was dual accepted for the Randwick meeting but Pfieffer elected to take the weight relief on offer in the higher benchmark race.

And he feels the race likely sets up a lot better for the gelding.

“When he can get the front and roll at his own rhythm, in those smaller fields, it’s a positive for him,’’ he said.

“He’s got an issue in the barriers so we’ve got to pick our mark with what gate we take as well.

“I hope he can replicate his last start but also we’re jumping a couple of grades. But it’s an asset coming down in the weights because most of last prep he carried up near top weight.”

Stablemate Mad Darcey also heads to Randwick, for the Midway Handicap (1000m), on the back of a booming first-up victory and it came as quite the relief to Pfieffer.

The mare had been winless for 13 months before her Gosford win, where she sprinted sharply from midfield.

“The last preparation was a bit disappointing and she’s come back this time and her two trials were outstanding,’’ he said.

“We weren’t sure how she would perform first-up, you look at last prep’s form and it was hard to be too confident. So it was good to see her back up the trials for a first-up win.”

Pfieffer said he has every reason to think Mad Darcey can now take the step up to Midway level and he expects if she can get a similar run she’ll replicate that fresh performance.

“We’re just treating her the same way we did going into the first-up run,’’ he said.

“We’ll let the speed dictate to us where she’s going to be in the run and hopefully she can have the same result as first-up.

“At the moment she’s in good order, we’ve just got to see her back it up.”

– Racing NSW

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